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Conservation International’s New Program to Invest $200 Million in Green Businesses Over the Next Decade

August 29, 2019

Photo: JALA

(Photo: JALA)

First Round of Investments to Fund Companies in Key Conservation Areas

Arlington, Va. (August 29, 2019) – Together with partners, Conservation International Ventures — the impact-investing arm of Conservation International — today announced that it will provide $200 million over the next decade to businesses that deliver measurable, meaningful environmental and social outcomes at scale.

This effort will support companies that operate in important forests and coastal areas, but are unable to access commercial financing or secure microfinancing, limiting their growth and financial sustainability. Over the next decade, Conservation International Ventures plans to execute 100 deals, which will result in an estimated sustainable management of 1.2 million acres of land and sea and the creation of more than 2,000 jobs.

In addition, as a revolving fund, Conservation International Ventures invests in companies that generate positive financial returns over a specified period of time. The principal and earned interest returned to the fund are used for new investments in green enterprises, making Conservation International Ventures a unique, impact-first investment fund that can operate without the pressure to generate returns for investors.

“As we expand the pipeline and track record of investments, our goal is to mainstream this approach across the impact-investing sector, and to increase and diversify the financing sources dedicated to conservation,” said Agustin Silvani, Senior Vice President of Conservation Finance at Conservation International.

Another key component of Conservation International Ventures is bringing in private finance and helping companies unlock larger investments. The initial $1.3 million invested by Conservation International Ventures has already leveraged an additional $7.9 million from co-financing partners (a 6-1 ratio), bringing total investments thus far to over $9 million. This financing is supporting early- and growth-stage enterprises in Colombia, Indonesia, Kenya and Peru.

“Around the world, entrepreneurs are creating solutions that have the potential to address our planet’s most pressing environmental challenges and tangibly improve hundreds of millions of lives,” Silvani explained. “However, many of these innovative solutions are early-stage or operate in more challenging marketplaces. While there is no shortage of resources to grow proven business models, this type of risk-tolerant, impact-aligned capital is comparatively scarce.”

Conservation International Ventures aims to bridge this gap by providing financing to start-up, early growth and growth-stage businesses while forging partnerships with commercial players that want to invest in conservation. Investments will focus on agriculture, forestry, fishing, aquaculture, ranching and livestock solutions that conserve marine and coastal resources, restore degraded lands, and target carbon sequestration and avoid carbon emissions.

Conservation International Ventures’ inaugural class includes:

CorpoCampo, a family-owned natural food company in Colombia that sources açaí berry and hearts of palm from over 1,200 acres of critical rainforest in the Colombian Amazon. The company employs vulnerable Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities in areas affected by violence and poverty caused by the country’s internal conflict. A loan from Conservation International Ventures will enable the company to upgrade its infrastructure, such as installing a new açaí pulp-processing facility, that will help to leverage larger investments from partners, ultimately creating an estimated 500 new full-time jobs and 3,800 seasonal jobs.

COOPBAM, a certified fair trade and organic coffee cooperative with more than 500 members who commit to sustainably using natural resources in the Alto Mayo Protected Forest, and to zero net deforestation. All members of COOPBAM operate within the northern part of the Alto Mayo Protected Forest, which provides vital fresh water to downstream communities and is home to many threatened and endemic plant and animal species. The loan enables immediate payment to all coffee producers, which in turn builds the cooperative's reputation and credibility, curbs deforestation efforts and encourages more producers to become members.

Komaza, a forestry business in Kenya that uses an innovative “microforestry” model to employ tens of thousands of marginalized farmers in sustainable tree farming. The company provides the farmers with support across the forestry value chain — from seedlings to sawmills — and then harvests the wood to sell as sustainable wood products, primarily for construction. As Africa’s population skyrockets, so does demand for wood to make charcoal, fuel and construction materials — and Africa’s forests cannot keep up. The loan supports the expansion and efficiency of Komaza’s microforestry model, which presents an environmentally responsible alternative to the large-scale commercial tree-farming model popular throughout the continent.

JALA, a woman-led tech start-up in Indonesia that helps shrimp farmers increase harvests and improve sustainability and water quality. In the third-largest shrimp-producing country in the world, JALA’s technology platform enables smallholder farmers to manage water-quality conditions — a major factor in mitigating environmental pollution risks and preventing disease. Degraded water quality can also cause producers to abandon their current ponds and cut down vital mangrove forests to build new ponds. The loan will support commercial production of the company’s hardware and software solutions for smallholder shrimp farmers, who produce 75% of Indonesia’s total annual shrimp production.

“These companies represent vastly different sectors and geographies, but they all demonstrate how economic growth and conservation outcomes can be achieved hand-in-hand,” Silvani said. “Sustainable enterprises can address environmental challenges while tangibly improving livelihoods.”

Conservation International Ventures selects businesses based on their potential for measurable environmental and social impacts — including habitat conservation, forest restoration and job creation — and their alignment with Conservation International’s mission to protect nature for the benefit of people.

About Conservation International

Conservation International uses science, policy and partnerships to protect the nature that people rely on for food, fresh water and livelihoods. Founded in 1987, Conservation International works in more than 30 countries on six continents to ensure a healthy, prosperous planet that supports us all. Learn more about Conservation International, the groundbreaking “Nature Is Speaking” campaign and its series of virtual reality projects: “Drop in the Ocean”, “My Africa,” “Under the Canopy” and “Valen’s Reef.” Follow Conservation International’s work on our Human Nature blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.